Monday, March 14, 2011
I knew the general story of Exodus: the oppression of the Israelite people in Egypt many years after Joseph had passed, the birth and calling of Moses, the plagues, the final release of the Israelites, the parting of the red sea, the miracles of manna and water from the rock, Moses on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 commandments, the people constructing and worshiping a false God, and finally the construction of the tabernacle.
What I was surprised by was the intricate detail in which God had given Moses for the construction, dedication, and of the tabernacle and all its contents. This took a significant portion of the book. God was very specific in how to dedicate, and make sacrifices, both blood, burnt, and oil.
While reading I just kept asking God... "what's the purpose of this" not in a lack of respect way, but in a genuine, I want to know, to gain understanding way. What I came away with was that because of the fall of man, our sin separated us from God, and in order to enter in to a relationship with Him a sacrifice had to be made (again and again, and for each person). For this sacrifice God required the first born of the herds and the crops, and the animal sacrifice had to be without blemish.
All of this sets up the future and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, one sacrifice that would take the place of the individual animal sacrifices required of each man.
I knew (know) how amazing and priceless the sacrifice Jesus made was, but knowing what was required of God's people up until this gave me a more concrete understanding.
Once again, I was astonished at the lack of faith the Israelites had in God, the God that had just unleashed his power on all of Egypt, sparing them in the process, and freeing them from the oppression. They continually groaned and complained about everything! I was getting so frustrated with them... Like COME ON PEOPLE!!! You just saw with your own eyes God's power and faithfulness, how can you complain and not trust that He will take care of you? How in 40 days did you loose all faith and want to worship a false god? How could you???
But isn't this a picture of most of us Christians? We experience the most significant miracle, the miracle of new life, being born again, being forgiven of all our sins. Then life still goes on, and we expect that everything will be great and easier than before, but challenges come, or we become complacent. And our faith waivers...we even turn back to our own false gods (money, alcohol) that we worshiped before we met the TRUE GOD. We cry out "God, where are you, why did you lead me out of Egypt, only to be worse off in the dessert?"
This is what was discussed at church yesterday... the fact that before we became Christians, the devil didn't care much about us... we weren't his "friend" but we hadn't become his "enemy"... but once we become Christians, we are his "enemy" and he wants back the ground he lost (2 Peter 2:20-22).
That is the insight I received from reading Exodus, it is the story of our lives as Christians... our oppression, our redemption, and our own struggles with faith after we have been set free.